War Is The Enemy Of Breastfeeding

August 6, 2019

The babies arrive small and skinny. To a health worker's eye, it's clear they're not growing well, though it's often only a health crisis like a fever or severe diarrhea that leads their mothers to make what is almost always a long trek to the Al Salam Hospital in Khamir, Yemen.


"By then, the babies are too weak to breastfeed," says Fiona Bay, a nurse with Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) at the hospital.


The neonatal unit of Al Salam in the war-torn country is seeing an increasing number of malnourished infants, and providers say that mothers are reporting that they cannot breastfeed their babies. Studies on breastfeeding in a conflict zone are scarce, but a few suggest that war and violence are tremendous obstacles to a mother's ability to breastfeed her baby.


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